It’s no secret there are a ton of former Boston Red Sox returning to Fenway Park this weekend in a Cleveland Indians uniform. While none may be more important than manager Terry Francona, who has led the Indians to an impressive 27-19 record, the most important man on the field Friday is former Sox starter and current Indians ace Justin Masterson.
Traded along with two other prospects for Victor Martinez, Masterson is now in his fourth full season in Cleveland, and is well on his way to a third-straight season of over 200 innings pitched.
Masterson really came into his own in 2011 with 12 wins, a 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 3.6 WAR. He had a bit of a down season last year with an ERA sniffing 5.0, but has completely turned it back around this season and become the ace the Indians thought they were getting a few years back.
Masterson is 7-2 with 71 strikeouts, a 2.83 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 70 IP so far this season. He hasn’t allowed a run in the last 19 innings pitched, and out-dueled Felix Hernandez in his last time out with 11 Ks in seven shutout innings. He’s striking batters out at a career-high rate of 9.13 per nine innings, and his 71 punch-outs are good for fifth in the American League.
He has already faced the Sox six times in his career and has had plenty of success even in his less impressive seasons. The 28-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 38.2 innings against Boston.
After an easy win Thursday, Masterson should have no problem clinching, at the very least, a split in this weekend series.